Re: Am I seeing red flags?
You are having a 50 year old flashback experience. The discomfort you are feeling is mostly yours. And even though you think you are handling it with a straight face, you are a dead give away. You are telling the interviewer that you are uncomfortable in that environment.
In today's job climate, it is a major accomplishment to get an interview. Most companies reject thousands of applicants sight unseen. If you get an opportunity to talk to a real person face to face, you have got to make the best of that situation. You are not applying for the job of civil rights leader or social activities coordinator on a cruise ship, you are applying to do real work that will make the company more successful. You have to present yourself as a asset they cannot do without. If you don't walk in the door as a positive asset, they won't believe it either.
It seems to me that you are walking in the door waving the red flag. Your gut may be informing you correctly, but you are not there to make friends. Most Black employees don't live near, nor socialize with their white counterparts after work. The only social environment that counts is the one that produces a strong work product. The most valuable asset in that situation is the set of skills you walk in the door with.
You must arrive with the confidence that "I belong here, and I can make a difference." Your body language and dialog will demonstrate that message, or you won't get the job. This is competition at the highest level. There are at least 5 other people who can do the job that you are applying for -- and in some cases 500. You must win the job. There are no entitlements.
I hope this helps to answer your question. I am a retired corporate executive, and I spent most of my 28 year corporate career as the only Black person in the room -- at work and with customers. The only attitude that counts is to walk in the room fully prepared, and comfortable with the knowledge that "I belong here." Anything less, and you lose before the conversation begins.